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Luddite's Saboteur Winemaker's Selection, Bot River 2017

Red Wine from South Africa
Bottled especially for us in the fine 2017 vintage, this characterful South African blend is based on peppery ripe shiraz, with velvety dark mourvèdre, and cut by a dash of cabernet sauvignon. Allow the combination a little air in a decanter before enjoying.
Price: £20.00 Bottle
Price: £120.00 Case of 6
In Stock
Code: SA16021

Wine characteristics

  • Red Wine
  • Full-bodied
  • Syrah Mourvedre
  • 14.5% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2025
  • 75cl
  • Cork, natural

South Africa

South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too.

Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.

South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly...
South Africa is undoubtedly one of the world's most dynamic wine producers. Established winemakers re-emerged onto the international scene in the early 1990s, following the demise of the apartheid era, and new wines, wineries, highly qualified winemakers, and even new regions have appeared steadily ever since. This makes South Africa more exciting than ever, but more complicated, too.

Most South African wines are varietally labelled - a key factor in any buying decision. Styles vary of course, and our notes aim to clarify this, but you will probably already know whether you like sauvignon blanc (now among the world's best), chardonnay, riesling, syrah, pinot noir, or cabernet.

South Africa's most famous grapes - white chenin blanc and red pinotage - will be less familiar unless you are already a convert. South African chenins are quite different from those in the Loire - almost always dry, but ripe and full of flavour (often with the complexity that comes from the increasingly sought-after old-vine fruit and the use of oak). Pinotage, a South African creation, is for many a love-it-or-hate-it grape. Pinotage's 'parents' are pinot noir, which imparts its strawberry aromas and lovely texture in young wines, and more complex, farmyard characteristics in more mature examples, and cinsault, the southern French grape, which adds spice and body. It was developed in South Africa in 1926. Shiraz is now making a name for itself in South Africa with some superb examples bottled varietally and showing characteristics that often places it between the plush New World style pioneered by Australia and classic Rhône balance and elegance.

More significant in South Africa than much of the New World (notably New Zealand and Chile) are blends, which make selection more complicated, as the style of the wine is less easy to anticipate. As in Australia and California, however, many of the best wines here are blends - a sign of maturity in the industry. Bordeaux blends were favoured initially but there are increasing numbers of Rhône and southern French influenced blends, including some eclectic mixes, many of which are among South Africa’s best wines.

The Regions

The vineyards of South Africa are at a latitude of about 35o south, with hot, dry Mediterranean-type summers tempered by oceanic influences in the south, particularly the very cold Benguela Current. Much of the country is mountainous or hilly with a multitude of terroirs for winemakers to play with. Soils are ancient and complex, and many and varied from region to region, and even vineyard to vineyard. Rainfall is very varied from one area to another, largely depending which side of a mountain or range a vineyard lies on, and in some parts irrigation is essential.

South Africa’s rigorous Wine Of Origin scheme demarcates vineyard areas, including some single vineyards, and guarantees the geographical source of the wine much like the old French appellation contrôllée system recently renamed AOP, though there are no controls on yields and grape varieties as there are in France..

Bordeaux-style blends are one of the Stellenbosch region's great strengths. Wines such as Kanonkop's Paul Sauer, Meerlust's Rubicon and Warwick's Trilogy are South African icons, produced over many years, and with proven ageing capacity. The striking Simonsberg mountain names the ward (or area) most highly sought after for these reds, but Stellenbosch produces a wide range of wine styles, from excellent chenin blancs and sauvignons to robust pinotage and Cape Blends.

Paarl is its less-well-known neighbour, also warm, and best known for its robust but smooth reds. Franschhoek is understandably one of the most-visited towns in the Cape (with lots of French Huguenot history and some of the best restaurants in the region). It has a number of famous producers, most notably Boekenhoutskloof, but most do not produce exclusively from Franschhoek fruit. Cape Chamonix is an exception we rate highly, producing a wide range of wine styles from bubbly to cabernet franc led red blend Troika.

The generally warmer Swartland region has been at the forefront of the development of Rhône varietals in South Africa, led by stars such as Eben Sadie, as well as home to some of the best old chenin blanc vines. Further north, and much cooler is Citrusdal, where fresher styles are produced and chenin blanc can achieve real finesse.

The Cape peninsula, to the south of Cape Town itself, is home to Constantia, known for its cooler climate thanks to the influence of the two oceans that almost circle it. Here, sauvignon blanc and the Bordeaux grapes predominate, but there are lovely examples of aromatic varieties too, notably Klein Constantia's elegant riesling and its wonderful sweet muscat Vin de Constance, and the vibrant sauvignon blancs from Cape Point vineyards to the south. Rhône varietals are successful new additions.

Elgin, en route to Hermanus, is another very cool region, very much up-and-coming for sauvignon blanc, as is Elim, which is even further south and the source of our former Exhibition Sauvignon. Robertson is almost due north of Elim, but way inland and far hotter. A small number of family producers manage to make excellent sauvignon here, too, but it is also a good source of chardonnay, increasingly pinot noir, and elegantly styled pinotage and Rhône varietals, not forgetting the excellent fortified muskadels which are unique to the Cape.

The most important factor in deciding whether or not to buy is often the producer's name. This is easily achieved when some of the grandest 'old' names, such as Meerlust, Hamilton Russell, Kanonkop, and Klein Constantia, still rank among the country's best producers. Where it gets trickier is when the winery is new, has no track record, or the winemaker is not a household name.
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Luddite

Niels Verburg is a solidly built guy and it will come as no surpise to anyone who has seen him that he loves his rugby and cricket. At 6’4” tall he is an imposing figure but a very welcoming one with a permanent smile and easy manner. He has worked around the world, from France to Chile, and been winemaker at nearby Beaumont and Iona, and is clearly passionate about what he does, enough to leave a winemaking role at a well-established estate to set out on your own.

His Luddite wines tell you something of the man. He is not one for technical trickery in the winery and the motto proudly stated on his website is ‘farming conscientiously with minimum mechanization’. For him technology is no substitute for passion, and low intervention is the name of the game here. He and his wife Penny dry farm great grapes and then makes them into wines that speak volumes about the terroir he has chosen for his vineyards, where he chose dry farming because he wants the wines to reflect the vintage every year and not be the same all the time, looking forward to the thrill of discovery every year when he finds out what kind of wine the vintage has given him. The estate, 30 km for the Atlantic on the eastern slopes of the Houw Hoek Mountains in the Walker Bay area, is a work in progress, with some plots planted and other plots under preparation, with test pits to assess the nature of the soils already dug and a plan glinting in his eye. So far he and Penny, have planted 6 hectares with out of the ...
Niels Verburg is a solidly built guy and it will come as no surpise to anyone who has seen him that he loves his rugby and cricket. At 6’4” tall he is an imposing figure but a very welcoming one with a permanent smile and easy manner. He has worked around the world, from France to Chile, and been winemaker at nearby Beaumont and Iona, and is clearly passionate about what he does, enough to leave a winemaking role at a well-established estate to set out on your own.

His Luddite wines tell you something of the man. He is not one for technical trickery in the winery and the motto proudly stated on his website is ‘farming conscientiously with minimum mechanization’. For him technology is no substitute for passion, and low intervention is the name of the game here. He and his wife Penny dry farm great grapes and then makes them into wines that speak volumes about the terroir he has chosen for his vineyards, where he chose dry farming because he wants the wines to reflect the vintage every year and not be the same all the time, looking forward to the thrill of discovery every year when he finds out what kind of wine the vintage has given him. The estate, 30 km for the Atlantic on the eastern slopes of the Houw Hoek Mountains in the Walker Bay area, is a work in progress, with some plots planted and other plots under preparation, with test pits to assess the nature of the soils already dug and a plan glinting in his eye. So far he and Penny, have planted 6 hectares with out of the 17 he owns, with olive trees and pigs living cheek by jowl with the vines.

His winery is new, with expansive views out along the valley from the tasting room, and a floor innovatively made from barrel tops which, he told us, seemed a great idea at the time but then turned into the most expensive floor in South Africa, all explained with his deep bass laugh and a shake of the head. Shiraz, chenin blanc, mourvèdre and cabernet sauvignon are planted, with the shiraz and chenin bottled solo and a fine and characterful cuvée called, wryly, Saboteur blending shiraz, mourvèdre and cabernet. This is a winery and winemaker worth seeking out.
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2017 vintage reviews

JancisRobinson.com

Rich and satisfying.Good structure and persistence. For those seeking body and interest.

16.5/20 Jancis Robinson

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